March 10, 2009

New Sec. of Education to Schools: Start spending; keep receipts!

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students, Misc, Student Loan News tagged , , , at 7:02 AM by Joe From Boston


According to the New York Times, Arne Duncan, the new Secretary of Education is jumping in with both feet:

“Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, sent a message to the nation’s school officials last week: Heads up! We’ll be sending you billions of dollars by month’s end. Spend the money quickly but wisely. And keep receipts; we’ll be asking.

The message, which went out Friday in documents e-mailed to governors, state education commissioners and thousands of school superintendents, provided the first broad guidelines for how the Education Department intends to channel $100 billion to the nation’s 14,000 school districts over the next few months. The expenditure is part of the Obama administration’s economic stimulus package.”

Looks like our schools will have a small repreive in the near future, but they better spend it well or they will be held accountable!

February 17, 2009

Stimulus bill – the final version

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged at 2:26 PM by Joe From Boston


With President Obama set to sign the bill (likely today), here’s what’s in the final draft, according to NCHelp.org:

Concerning provisions of interest to higher education and student lending, the measure would:

  • Provide $15.6 billion in Pell Grant appropriations.
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant by $500 for 2009-10 for a maximum of $5,350; funding is also reflected to be sufficient to increase the maximum Pell Grant for 2010-11 by $500 to a maximum of $5,550.
  • Allocate $200 million additional funding for Federal Work Study programs.
  • Not subject private activity bonds issued in 2009-10 to the Alternative Minimum Tax and clarifies refunding exemption for bonds.
  • Increase the Hope Scholarship tax credit and make it partially refundable (40 percent).
  • Provide $74 million to the Department of Education for student aid administration and audits and investigations.
  • Create a $53.6 billion state stabilization fund.

The bill does NOT include an increase in the unsubsidized Stafford loan limit.

February 2, 2009

Economic Stimulus Bill Update

Posted in Grants, Legislation Affecting Students, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , at 8:09 AM by Joe From Boston


Last week the House of Representatives passed the economic stimulus bill.  In their version, the Pell grant would increase and the Stafford loan borrowing limits would increase by $2000 per year.

The Senate is set to vote on the bill next week.  In the meantime, they’re reconciling their version of the bill which does not have the Stafford Loan increases.

Opponents say the increases will lead colleges to raise tuition even further; proponents say that higher federal loan limits would lower the amount of private loans taken out for college.

January 27, 2009

Stimulus Package in House or Representatives

Posted in Grants, Legislation Affecting Students, Saving for College, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , , at 1:46 PM by Joe From Boston


The version of the stimulus package currently before the House of Representatives has the following higher-ed related provisions:

  • Increase the Pell Grant  by $500 from $4,850 to $5,350;
  • Increase work study funding by $490 million;
  • Increase student loan limits on unsubsidized Stafford Loan by $2,000;
  • Provide $50 million to the Department of Education to help them administer student aid and loan programs.

January 26, 2009

Stimulus bill includes education tax credits

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , at 1:04 PM by Joe From Boston


I thought you’d want to know of the proposed tax cuts in the economic stimulus bill currently being floated around the Senate:

-Create an American Opportunity Tax Credit that would provide a $2,500 higher education tax credit that is available for the first four years of college; it would phase out for individual taxpayers with adjusted gross income above $80,000 ($160,000 for couples married filing jointly).

-Allow computers to be included as qualified education expenses in 529 Education Plans.

January 22, 2009

President’s official higher education agenda

Posted in FAFSA, Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , at 7:16 AM by Joe From Boston


There’s no change to report in President Obama’s agenda from what it was 3 days ago on hi campaign website, but I thought I should point out that his higher education agenda is now official and listed on the White House’s website:

  • Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.
  • Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

January 13, 2009

What can we expect from Obama?

Posted in FAFSA, Legislation Affecting Students, Saving for College, Scholarships, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , at 9:25 AM by Joe From Boston


The website of President-Elect Obama’s transition team outlines some key strategies and plans for higher education in the next 4 years:

  • Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama and Biden will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Recipients of the credit will be required to conduct 100 hours of community service.
  • Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama and Biden will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

November 22, 2008

Florida state colleges among lowest tuition in nation – but face double-digit tuition increases

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students, Saving for College at 9:26 AM by Joe From Boston


Wow, you lucky Floridians!  You can attend a local state school for around $4,000 per year in tuition!  Up here in Massachusetts, we pay a lot more.

Looks like you’ll be facing a double-digit tuition increase this year though.  Governor Charlie Crist publicly supported the plan on Thursday, after university officials complained of $200 million in budget cuts over the past two years.

According to  the New York Times:

“The proposal from Mr. Crist, who in the past has opposed raising tuition, would give individual universities the power to increase it up to 15 percent annually until Florida’s in-state tuition rate reached the national average, now about $6,500 a year.

Florida’s current tuition for residents is among the lowest in the nation, averaging less than $4,000 a year, according to a new report by the College Board.

Unlike many other states, Florida has a university system whose tuition rates have been set annually by the Legislature. In the last two years, some of the state’s larger research universities have won the power to set a rate above what lawmakers approved, but even that has been subject to a cap.

At a news conference where he was flanked by higher-education officials, Mr. Crist described his proposal as a way of instilling financial stability at the state’s universities.  His turnabout was warmly received by university presidents, who have complained about the effect of almost $200 million in budget cuts over two years. To cope with those cuts, the universities have had to pare classes, eliminate some majors and lay off instructors.”

April 30, 2008

Sudent Loan Forgiveness for people working in the public sector

Posted in Consolidation, Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News at 7:03 AM by Joe From Boston


I’ve been asked a LOT of questions about this since the new legislation was passed in October, and I finally have some concrete details to share with you.

You can view a PDF from the Department of Education that explains the changes.  Access the PDF here.  These are  guidelines.  Final regulations will be issued in November 2008.

Here are the highlights:

  • You MUST make 10 years of payments (120 payments ) after October 2007 before your loans are forgiven – that means loan forgiveness won’t even start until October 2017.
  • You MUST be employed in the public sector for all of those 120 payments.
  • You MUST be employed in the public sector at the time the loans are forgiven.
  • In the case of Parent PLUS loans, it is the parent who must mee the above 2 requirements, not the student.
  • Your loans MUST be Direct Loans.  Now those of you in the FFELP program, don’t panic – you can consolidate (or re-consolidate) your loans into the Direct Loan program to qualify.

IMPORTANT: As many of you know, the standard repayment period for student loans is 10 years.  Essentially, those of you with high balances that you consolidate (ans thus extend the repayment period), or those of you on a reduced-income repayment plan will be eligible.

Here is a list of public-service full-time positions that are eligible:

• Emergency management
• Government
• Military service
• Public safety
• Law enforcement
• Public health
• Public education (including early childhood education)
• Social work in a public child or family service agency
• Public child care
• Public service for individuals with disabilities
• Public interest law services (including prosecution or public defense or legal advocacy in low income communities at a nonprofit organization)
• Public service for the elderly
• Public library sciences
• School-based library sciences and other school-based services
• Certain tax-exempt organizations
• Faculty teaching in high-needs areas, as determined by the Secretary
• Full-time faculty member at a Tribal College or University

March 3, 2008

Cuomo now looking into college/credit card agreements

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students, Student Loan News at 2:39 PM by Joe From Boston


NY Attorney General is now looking into other aspects of college deals, especially those with credit card providers.  Here’s an excerpt from the Chronicle of Higher Education’s article:

Cuomo’s Latest Targets Include Universities’ Deals With Credit-Card Providers
By PAUL BASKEN

During the past few months, New York State’s attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo, has been drawing headlines for investigations involving insurance companies, home-appraisal services, and Internet-service providers.

But he hasn’t forgotten about colleges.

The attorney general, whose name last year became synonymous with the increased pressure on colleges to eliminate conflicts of interest in their student-lending practices, sent out a series of subpoenas this month asking institutions for details on their college-branded credit cards. Dartmouth College received a subpoena dated February 14, said Ellen L. Arnold, an associate general counsel at Dartmouth. “There are a number of other institutions who received the same subpoena on the same time frame,” Ms. Arnold said.

Agreements with credit-card providers, however, appear to be only a portion of what Mr. Cuomo is now exploring. A deputy counsel to the attorney general, Benjamin M. Lawsky, this week outlined widereaching plans to broaden the office’s investigations into conflicts of interest in the arrangements between colleges and companies that do business with the institutions or their students and alumni. The new investigative work will involve banking, health-insurance, textbook, food-service, and creditcard companies that have business relationships with hundreds of American colleges, Mr. Lawsky told a gathering of educators and guidance counselors from school districts on New York’s Long Island on Wednesday, Newsday reported.

The attorney general’s investigations so far have shown that “college campuses were becoming a place where big business was realizing it could basically pay its way to get to a captive audience,” Mr. Lawsky later told the newspaper. “They’re paying schools millions of dollars a year to make sure the students are indebted to them.”

One of the practices taking place at colleges that have attracted Mr. Cuomo’s attention involves a type of credit cards, known as affinity cards, that bear the logos of colleges, charities, or other organizations. One industry study estimated that by the end of 2006, consumers carried more than 320-million cobranded and affinity credit cards and used them for $849-billion worth of transactions.

Such credit-card partnerships are common with either colleges or their alumni associations. Mr. Cuomo and other critics have questioned whether such arrangements will encourage students to take on more debt than necessary, or encourage colleges to recommend lenders on the basis of financial relationships that aren’t in their students’ best interests.

Previous page · Next page